In advance of Cameroon’s upcoming participation in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, the team is reflecting on the death of their countryman Marc Vivien-Foe, who collapsed in the last Confederations Cup Cameroon played in. In the 2003 semifinal against Colombia, which took place in France, Foe collapsed on the field and was later determined dead on arrival. The player, who was only 28 years old, was later determined to have died of a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
“We want to play well for him, to honor and respect what he did for Cameroon,” midfielder Arnaud Djoum said in talking about Foe’s inspiration to the team. However, he clarified that the team doesn’t talk about him aloud or use him as an obvious rah-rah subject: “In the dressing room, we try not to speak too much about it out of respect for him and his family. It’s something we keep really quiet but we know from each other that we have to give everything and play from heart, like he did.” Djoum has a specific connection to Foe, as he sports the number 17 on his jersey, the same number worn by Foe in the early 2000s. While he acknowledges it’s not an “easy number to wear”, he also called it a special honor to bear Foe’s number.
Cameroon will open their 2017 Confederations Cup appearance with a match in the group stage against Chile on June 18th. Their other Group B matches are against Australia on June 22nd and against Germany on June 25th. In Cameroon’s last appearance in 2003, the squad reached the cup final before losing to host nation France. Since then, the best an African team has done is South Africa, who reached the cup semifinals in 2009. “We want to show that the teams in Africa can do good things,” Djoum says.